A Simple Comment on the Relationship Shinto with Taoism, and its Influence of Japanese Culure

陰陽師 安倍晴明

Shinto and Budhism

The relationship between Shinto and Buddhism can be seen in Shinto-Buddhist syncretism(Shin-butsu shugo) . The “Honji Suijaku theory” is one of them. According to it, “the eight million gods of Shinto are actually incarnations of various Buddhas (including Bodhisattva and Tenbe).” And those incarnations are “Gongen that appeared in the land of Japan”.
According to this, the main god of Shinto, “Amaterasu Omikami,” is also positioned as an incarnation of the Buddha called “Dainichi Nyorai.”

Shinto and Confucianism

The core of Confucian teaching is the maintenance of relationships through the expansion of morality. It was introduced to Japan earlier than Buddhism and developed into various theories. For example, the Confucian virtues of “loyalty” and “filial piety” strengthen the emperor system and parent-child relationships and supplement the contents of Shinto.

I think that the perception of the three religions in early-modern Japan is briefly summarized in the following sentences.

“Know-how for sucess in this world” is learned from Confucianism, “one person’s blessing” is prayed to Shinto Gods, and “posthumous salvation” is prayed to Buddha. It seems that it was a general religious idea of the common people of the early modern period to divide the roles of the three religions and follow them.

Taoism and Shinto

Compared to them, the influence of Taoism is quite limited. However, it can be said that its impact have been strong. The symbol is the activity of people called “Onmyoji”. “Onmyoji” was originally the name of the government office, and from the beginning, it provided public advice in the form of copying the Taoist Onmyodo. In the middle and late Heian period (11th and 12th centuries), Onmyoji had an influence on the politics of the imperial court.

Onmyoji, Abe no Seimei (Seimei Abe)

Among them, Seimei Abe (921-1005) is a symbol of Onmyoji because of his unique talent and his activities.

“Onmyoji, Seimei Abe, was a person who used to perform fortune-telling and ceremonies for His Majesty the Emperor in Japan during the Heian period at the Onmyō-ryō in the Ministry of “Nakatsukasa” (the general affairs), which is responsible for all the duties of the imperial court.”

According to historian Mizuyoshi Murakami, Seimei Abe is a late-blooming hard worker. He has been active for more than 20 years since his 60s. Eventually, when he was 82, he “reached a junior fourth rank (the Onmyodo dormitory secretary was a junior fifth rank).” He is said to have continued his research until his death at the age of 85.
He did not swallow the Chinese Onmyodo. He established Japan’s unique Onmyodo based on the differences between Japan and China. He is also said to have innovated fortune-telling.https://www.homes.co.jp/cont/press/reform/reform_00533/

Seimei Abe living in Japanese subculture

He is still featured in novels and anime works. The influence extends to Japanese subculture. Onmyoji, Seimei Abe, is still contributing to the expansion of Japanese cultural interests around the world.

“Movie Onmyoji“

Click here for novels, movies, TV animations, games, etc. on Onmyoji.

Click here for the youkai that Onmyoji was fighting and the relationship between Shinto and youkai